TRAVELLING HOME: PERSONAL MOBILITY AND “NEW” POLISH MIGRANTS IN ENGLAND
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This article is concerned with issues of travelling home in narratives of migration, drawing particular attention to the journey itself, which I examine as an increasingly important aspect of overall personal mobility. Freedom of circulation within the European Union made the borders inside the EU space less important to those who have the right of free movement. More recently, the expansion of the EU in 2004 and the availability of cheaper, more frequent and more accessible air travel connections, has allowed for new forms of mobility, based on more frequent return visits for Eastern Europeans, who have gone to work and live in Britain. In recent years, the “visiting friends and family” (VFR) mobility type has been the fastest growing segment of inbound air traffic in the UK, accounting for almost half of all trips within European Union (CAA Passenger Survey 2006). Drawing on the narratives and interview data with “new” Polish migrants in England, this paper argues that the social content of migrant mobility and visits home is of increasing importance. Many Polish migrants in England are now dependent on this form of mobility not only for sustaining social ties, but also in case of negotiation of their social status and displaying the achievements of migration. I argue, amongst other things, that the visit home is also a fundamental part of new mobility patterns and a crucial stage in the negotiation of migration itself. I am suggesting that the ways in which the journey home and the distance between England and Poland are encountered by Polish migrants, are critical to their understandings of migration. Because of the figurative proximity between Poland and England and “when desired” nature of their movement, Polish migrants are placed in a position of privilege and control regarding their mobility.
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